For most of us, the school year has begun, and with it comes literally mountains of papers, forms to fill out, rushed mornings and exhausted bedtimes. What if you could make this a bit easier? With a little effort and responsibility on both the parts of you and your children, it can be an easier year. Here are a few tips:
- Command center/Launch pad: Call it what you will (and you’ll see this term on Fly Lady as well), but having this area is essential for everyone in the family. To determine where it should be located, look at the traffic flow in your house. Where do you enter and exit most? Where do things like book bags, keys, mail, etc., get tossed? That is the area where you need to set up your command center. Provide a place for coats, purses, and book bags to hang up, a hook or basket for keys, and for younger kids a place for shoes.
- Folder/envelope system: If you’ve checked out my Facebook page, you’re familiar with this system. For each child, provide a red folder (or manila envelope) and a green folder (envelope). This is where responsibility enters in. I strongly recommend some type of reward system for the kids as they get used to this so that they want to use it. Your reward as a parent will be an end to the stack of papers and the gratification of having those important forms in a set place.
Here’s how it works: When your child gets home from school, they immediately put their book bag on their command center, open it, and remove their papers sent home that day. They put these papers in the RED folder, and go on about whatever their after school routine is. When you get home, you go to the red folder, remove the papers, immediately look through them, and sign or do whatever needs to be done with any papers that need to go back to school. You put those papers in the GREEN folder. In the morning, as they’re preparing to leave, your child takes the papers from the green folder, puts them in their book bag, and head out the door!
- Paper piles: So what about the papers they bring home, especially in the early years? Guess what, parents? You’re not required to keep every single Math worksheet, Phonics, Reading, Spelling test, or piece of art work! You are NOT a bad parent if you don’t keep them! When they’re 25, they’re not going to care if you threw away the page where they matched all the words that had a long a sound. Keep the ones that mean something to you! Keep the spelling test they aced after studying so hard, or the Math test where they finally understood a concept that was tough for them. Have a place where you can display their artwork when they first do it, but then rotate them with new pieces and keep only the really special ones. If you’re not into scrapbooking, then simply label some envelopes for the year and put them in there so they’re safe for the future.
- Responsibility: If a child is school aged, they should be able to dress themselves in the morning. There are several things you can do to facilitate this. If they wear a uniform, it’s easy. They know what they’re allowed to wear. If not, there are organizers where you can put their outfits for the week. You can do this on the weekends. Or you can simply organize their clothes so they know what their choices are. Either way, laying out clothes for the next day should be part of the bedtime routine.
There are a lot of other tips to make the school year go smoothly, but these few should help to get it off to a good start.
If you have any questions, post in the comments!